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Archive for April, 2008

It does not matter what tribe a president comes from; by Nkuraya (Commentary)

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

It is my believe that most Kenyans all they want is a stable, peaceful and a prosperous nation. These are the Kenyans I am referring as progressive. Let us then gage our leaders with what they are going to achieve since we have so many problems afflicting us.

Both Raila and Kalonzo have very powerful positions let us now gage them on how much development they bring. How many Harambees they hold. How many schools, health centers and Youth Vacational centers they build or equip. How much effort they make to bring the Kenyan people together and how much they preach peace and unity.

Let us as progressive Kenyans support them whenever they engage on the above ventures and let us desist from insulting them and demeaning them, sometimes you get what you expect from people.

Let me remind Kenyans again and again it does not matter which tribe a president comes from so long as the president holds the principles of peace, unity and development. Everybody will stand to gain, but if a president is divisive and retrogressive nobody will stand to benefit including his own family. How many of you have uncles or relatives in high places and they cannot meet with you leave alone help you? Many. So I beg you people to start demanding performance and character.

Now those who do not see my point ask yourself this question we have 90 ministers and assistant ministers that means every tribe has an appointee have that increased sufurias of food in your homestead? Have that given you a job if you are jobless? Have that given you school fees or scholarship if you are a student? Have that brought you a tarmac road to your town or farm? Have that brought you electricity to your house? Have that made you afford the high cost of food and living? Now may that drive sense to the most thick skull.

Now the last and the most important thing of all, we must stop insulting, fighting, injuring and killing one another because of a politician or politics. That is the most stupid thing a human being can do. You fight, injure and kill one another for people who dine together, drink together and fly together. What kind of an imbecile are you? The word has to go around and be preached that fighting, injuring one another or killing one another for a politician or for politics is the most useless idiotic and senseless thing anything calling itself a higher mammal can do.

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South Africa: Mbeki speaks out against racism

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.PretoriaNews.SA.

President Thabo Mbeki has called on South Africans “to unite in action” to confront the “savagery of racism” and the challenges of high food and fuel prices.

Mbeki stressed that even 14 years into democracy, South Africans couldn’t be truly free while so many still live in poverty and racism persisted. “Indeed, we can’t claim to be truly free when insidious and blatant racism still exists in our society.

“We can’t claim to be truly free when racism still rears its ugly head in our institutions of higher learning, in the media, in the private sector, in the boardrooms and with the xenophobic occurrences that we observed in some communities in recent weeks,” he said on Sunday in Lansdowne, Cape Town in his last Freedom Day speech as president. Mbeki said the widespread condemnation of recent acts of racism and xenophobia showed that South Africans “will not tolerate people who want to drag us back into the savagery of racism and apartheid”.

He said if people suspected someone of attacks on foreigners, they should alert the police, and not take the law into their own hands. He said the fight against apartheid was hard, and described the detentions without trial, disappearances, exiles, assassinations, forced removals and the Group Areas Act as “testimonies that our freedom was never free”. So, the country had to work harder to defeat sexism, racism and xenophobia, particularly as there were “pockets of backwardness” in the country.

Mbeki said there were still too many people who were poor, unemployed and without proper houses. “There are other problems we must confront together as they impact negatively on the standard of living of the people. “These include the national electricity emergency, high food and fuel prices and high interest rates.” Opening the celebration, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan also condemned continuing racism and xenophobia so long after the “mass action” on April 27 1994, when South Africans voted for freedom for the first time.

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool said people in the province should stop blaming one another for racism, an apparent reference to the ongoing spats between and within political parties, including the Western Cape ANC. Cape Town mayor Helen Zille did not attend the event, instead sending her deputy, Grant Haskin. She denied suggestions of a snub: she was in KwaZulu-Natal attending a family wedding and so spoke at a function there.

Also absent was the majority of the Western Cape ANC leadership, largely seen as anti-Mbeki. A fly past by the SA Air Force and a 21-gun salute greeted the crowd of about 2 000 people and 200 guests, including Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel.

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Kenya: The last thing Kenya needs right now is an exotic Maasai (commentary)

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.dailynation.ke

Story by Rasna Warah.

Imagine you are from a war-torn country whose image as a tourist destination has been badly damaged by images of ethnic violence in the international press.

Now, imagine that you have been hired by the government of that country to fix the countrys image so that the tourists and the dollars can start flowing in again. Would you:
a) Send a bunch of shuka-clad Maasai men and women in all their regalia abroad to show potential tourists how Kenyas tribes spend much of their day dancing and smiling for the cameras?
b) Showcase the countrys natural assets through a slick commercial that would reveal the countrys incredible physical beauty and game parks?
c) Start a campaign that would capitalise on the countrys achievements in the field of sports, business, science and the arts so as to show a side of the country that is not that well-known internationally?

If you answered a), Im afraid you have lost the plot. For one, if you recall, the Maasai did not feature prominently in the ethnic violence that rocked the country in recent weeks. In fact, for the first time, people abroad got a glimpse of the other tribes of Kenya whose pictures do not normally appear on postcards or travel brochures. So going abroad and showing foreigners who now know that Kenya has more than one tribe that the Maasai represent the whole of Kenya is just plain stupid.

Yet someone in the ministry in charge of such things did exactly this last week took a bunch of shuka-clad Maasai to New York to show Americans what a lovely tourist destination Kenya is. What made this show of stupidity even worse was that in the same week, not far from New York, Robert Cheruiyot won the Boston Marathon for the fourth time, setting a record that has not been broken in years. Cheruiyot proved, as the American sports commentator noted, that despite having now joined the league of war-torn countries and despite persistent poverty, Kenya is capable of producing world-class athletes.

Having watched the Boston Marathon myself many years ago when I was a student in Boston, I know that it is considered one of the most prestigious events in the United States. Runners come from all over the world to compete and the city practically shuts down on the day of the marathon so that Bostonians can watch the runners go by. It is a gruelling feat, and if the spring is late, can take place in near-zero temperatures. The winner is lauded in the American press and the local papers usually carry an image of the winner on the front page the following day.

Not so in Kenya. Cheruiyot’s victory was buried in the back pages of the local dailies and barely made it to the sports news on television. Granted, Kenyans win so many marathons these days, theyve almost become blas about these victories. But these are the same Kenyans who will spend every weekend at sports bars watching Manchester United, Arsenal and all those other English clubs playing football.
After all that we have been through as a nation, the last thing we want is the world to perceive this country as a place that defines itself through its various ethnic groups. Its about time that we stopped selling the Maasai as if they are an extension of the countrys flora and fauna.

An adorned Maasai may be beautiful to look at, but human development indicators show that despite all their cattle, the Maasai remain one of the most underdeveloped people in the country, with high mortality rates due to preventable diseases and high levels of illiteracy, especially among women and girls. Isnt it time we moved away from the ethnographers obsession with the Maasai and looked at what it really means to lead a nomadic existence with little access to healthcare and education?

Kenya has enormous talent in every field, yet our athletes, artists, writers, scientists, academics, our entrepreneurs and even our Nobel Prize winner are more likely to receive accolades in a foreign country than they are here. In fact, there is no museum or archive in the entire country devoted to showcasing our talent. (Though one such new project called Generation Kenya is trying to do just that but with no Government support).

No wonder our most talented people seek greener pastures abroad or obtain foreign citizenship. If we are to erase the image of Kenya as a violent, genocide-prone nation, we must stop exoticising our people as noble savages. It is not only insulting, but totally inappropriate at this time in our history. More importantly, if we want Kenyans to unite under one flag, we must support and reward all those people who make us proud to be Kenyan.

*Ms Warah is an editor with the UN. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations.

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Mozambique: Government to turn world food crisis into advantage

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher. Korir, api africanpress@gtmail.no source.PANA.

Maputo (Mozambique) – The Mozambican government believes that the current international food crisis, while posing a short-term threat to the country, could become an opportunity for increasing domestic agricultural production and stimulating agro-industry.

The Mozambican News Agency (AIM) Sunday quoted Agriculture Minister Soares Nhaca , as saying that the government was designing a series of strategic actions to eliminate deficits in the production of basic foodstuffs, and to export a surplus once the domestic market had been satisfied. He described the strategy as the medium-term measures with a time limit of three years.

Some shorter-term measures are also under consideration to improve access to productive land, create food reserves and improve the transportation of food from where it is produced to where it is consumed, the minister said. A long-standing complaint is that grains rot in peasant barns because no one com es to buy them and take to consumers in the towns. The government also intends to speed up rehabilitation of the local roads linking productive areas with markets, and to increase the access of small farmers to the needed agricultural inputs.

The government admits that the country faces a serious deficit in several basic foods, therefore almost all the wheat consumed in Mozambique is imported – this year the country will need to import almost 470,000 tonnes of wheat. The rice deficit is 316,000 tonnes, and the country needs to import 169,000 tonn es of potatoes. The shortfall for vegetable oil is 50,400 tonnes, for fish 54,00 0 tonnes (though it is notoriously difficult to put a figure on the catches of the country’s artisanal fishermen), and for chicken, 24,000 tonnes.

“These measures are intended to reduce the country’s food deficit in three years rather than five (the time allotted in the Agriculture Ministry’s strategic pla n )”, Nhaca told reporters Saturday, promising that the government was also monito r ing prices to ensure that they did not reach the levels found in some other countries. He said Mozambique could seize the opportunity afforded by the crisis to increas e production. This is particularly the case with rice.

Nhaca said that of all the members of Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mozambique had the available land, the best climatic conditions, and the know-how to expand rice production, replacing imports, and perhaps eventually producing surplus for export.

On wheat, Nhaca argued that the current high world prices would compensate for e fforts to expand domestic wheat production. So far wheat is only produced on the Angonia plateau in the western province of Tete, but the government is convinced that several other parts of the country possess the appropriate agro-climatic conditions for wheat production.

Nhaca said rather than viewing cassava as a subsistence crop, much more of the country’s cassava could be marketed and turned into flour. (One project under study is to make cheaper bread, by using a mixture of wheat and cassava flour). The Minister argued that Mozambique was competitive in producing soya and sunflo wer, which could replace imports, and supply the national vegetable oil and anim a l feed industries.
The challenge, Nhaca admitted, is to ensure that producers respond to the opport unities.

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Tanzania: A hazardous route to the cradle

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.IPS

Story by Sarah McGregor

Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) – Tatu Shabani Tumbo’s first born was diagnosed with strength-sapping anaemia, and died a toddler. Doctors had no medical explanation for the sudden death of her second child at age one. She then tried to get pregnant a third time, initially without success.

“It is painful for someone to lose babies, one after the other,” recalls Tumbo, a social welfare clerk at Tanzania’s main Muhimbili Hospital, in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam. “Still, I needed children. The doctors said my fallopian tubes were too narrow and gave me medicine.” Tumbo had her own remedy in mind, however. “I believe a nearby witch killed them (the two children) and prevented me from pregnancy. I shifted homes.” Something worked. Tumbo is now raising four healthy teenagers.

This week, Tanzanian health authorities introduced new measures to improve the chances of survival for mothers and their newborns. Over the past few years, the country has made some progress in this regard. The most recent official figures show that child mortality levels dropped by more than 24 percent in 2005 compared to 15 years earlier. Annually, however, about 147,000 Tanzanian children still die before their fifth birthday, a third within the first few hours, weeks or months of birth, according to the ‘Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2004-05’. The child mortality rate is 112 deaths for every 1,000 live births; this means that youngsters under the age of five have a one-in-ten chance of dying.

Becoming a mother may, in turn, prove hazardous for Tanzanian women, who have an average of six children each. In 2000, almost 1,500 women in Tanzania died during pregnancy, labour or shortly after delivery for every 100,000 babies born alive, says the World Bank. This marked a deterioration compared to the situation a decade earlier, when the maternal mortality rate was 770 deaths per 100,000 live births.
A United Nations report using statistics gathered in 2000 put the world average for maternal mortality at 400 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the average for wealthy nations at just 20 deaths.

Tanzania’s 2004-2005 demographic and health survey, which used information gathered in a door-to-door campaign, paints a slightly less dismal picture about the situation in the country. It indicates that 578 mothers die for every 100,000 live births. “One of the most dangerous days in a woman’s life is the day she gives birth to a child,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters this week in Dar es Salaam, in the course of a three-day visit to Tanzania.

Stoltenberg took the opportunity to help launch the ‘Deliver Now’ campaign in Tanzania. This global initiative is assisting poor nations to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on reducing child and maternal deaths. Eight MDGs were agreed on by global leaders at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Goal four aims to reduce mortality among children under five by two thirds, while goal five seeks to cut maternal deaths by three quarters, and achieve universal access to reproductive health care. The deadline for all MDGs is 2015.

For his part, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete vowed to dedicate 15 percent of his country’s health budget to rolling out a new nationwide strategy to improve the odds of mother and child survival, a complementary initiative to ‘Deliver Now.’ “Children and mothers are dying of causes that are preventable,” said Kikwete at the press conference attended by Stoltenberg. “We are tackling the causes so that lives can be saved.”

Various problems collide to put mothers and children at risk in Tanzania. A third of the country’s 38 million people live on less than a dollar a day and the adult HIV prevalence rate is 6.5 percent — both major factors in driving down the life expectancy of mothers and their offspring. Unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and inadequate diets lead to disease and death. Preventable illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhoea are the major cause of death for children, according to information sheets provided by ‘Deliver Now’. New mothers succumb primarily to malaria, anaemia and AIDS, while illegal abortions are also blamed for loss of life.

As elsewhere in Africa, many patients in Tanzania prefer traditional approaches to health issues over Western methods. The result is that qualified health care providers assist with fewer than half the country’s births — a matter of particular concern in remote settings, where complications may be difficult to treat given the long distances to health facilities and insufficient transport.

The quality of care may also be poor in public hospitals, however, as these facilities often lack medicines and equipment. Acute shortages of trained health workers mean there is only one doctor for every 20,000 people in Tanzania. By comparison, the United Kingdom has one doctor for every 440 people.

Medical experts say prevention and simple, low-cost measures are key to increasing survival rates. Disease-blocking vaccines and the distribution of multi-vitamin supplements could get babies off to a healthy start, for instance. Each intervention would serve as a valuable step forward in this East African country, said Tumbo. “The truth is it’s hazardous (to have children in Tanzania), but we do it no matter what the risks. It’s our culture.”

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Tanzania: Legal opinion on radar deal led to Attorney Gerneral’s fall

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.eastafricanbusinessweek.ug.

Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) – A legal opinion by the Tanzania Attorney Generals Chambers on the purchase of a 28 million British pounds air defence radar system from BAE Systems in 2001 is central to the scandal that has led to the resignation of the former Attorney General.

Mr. Andrew Chenge, who resigned from government last week, is a former Attorney General and had been promoted to cabinet to head the ministry for infrastructure development. The multi-million pound sterling scandal is under both local and international scrutiny. Chenge was Tanzanias Attorney General when the radar deal was sealed. East African Business Week has learnt that at the time the deal was negotiated, Tanzania had no money so it had to look for other sources to finance the project.

Reliable sources say the Tanzania government sought a legal opinion about the deal at which point the Attorney General office advised to continue with the project and above all advised the government to borrow money from a British bank, Barclays. According to a source within the ministry of legal and constitutional affairs, that legal opinion was by itself illegal because such a commercial debt was uncalled for as the World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organisation had said the purchase was unnecessary and overpriced.

He said the Attorney Generals Chambers advised the government to borrow a huge amount of money well knowing that the price was on the higher side. Apart from an inflated price, Tanzania being a HIPC country was not supposed to enter such a debt burden with a two-digit interest rate, he said. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has shown concern after discovering that such a legal opinion was itself illegal, and could have been pushed by personal interests because the deal was wildly expensive, he said.

Although reports that Chenge is under investigations came out recently, East African Business Week has established that the SFO started a follow up on the matter three years ago. The radar was manufactured by Siemens Plessey, which then had become a BAE subsidiary. The local Siemens agent then negotiated the sale with the Tanzanian defence ministry. The radar deal has a long history. It all started in 1992 during President Ali Hassan Mwinyi when negotiators had put the price tag at 11o million pound sterling.

The deal was blocked on reasons that it was unaffordable and the first Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere played a great role in discouraging it. However, when Nyerere died in 1999, the scheme was resurrected, with a smaller phase to be followed by the rest but both the World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organisation were against the deal. In the UK, the then Development Secretary, Ms. Clare Short, temporarily blocked aid payments in protest and said openly that she suspected corruption.

It stank and was always obvious that this useless project was corrupt, she was quoted as saying. Short also made an attempt to prevent the sale by arguing that a British arms export license be withheld but was overruled in cabinet by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Britains Foreign Secretary then, Mr. Robin Cook and current prime minister Gordon Brown were also against the deal. The reasons put forward by both Short and Cook were that because Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, there were no substantive reasons to enter into such an expensive deal.

Chenge, resigned on April 20, 2008 after the Guardian newspaper of the UK said the minister has stashed away $1 million in an offshore account and that the team investigating the sale of the military radar to Tanzania was tracing the account. Also discovered, was a $ 500,000 transaction shown to have been made (from Chenges offshore account) to one of the senior officers of the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco). Two weeks ago SFO conducted an in-depth search at both Chenges offices and residence in Dar es Salaam.

Chenge is now the fourth minister to resign in a period of two months. Edward Lowassa (Prime Minister), Nazir Karamagi (Minister for Minerals and Energy) and Ibrahim Msabaha (EastAfrican Cooperation) resigned in February after they were implicated in the irregular awarding of a multi-billion shilling tender to generate emergency electricity in 2006. The tender was awarded to a shadowy American company, Richmond.

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Sudan: China sign $396 dollar dam project

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.sudantribune.

Sudan (Khartoum) The Sudanese government today signed a contract with two Chinese firms worth 396 million U.S. dollars for the project to elevate Roseires Dam in eastern Sudan, funded by a number of Arab funds.

The new project is intended to increase the height of the dam by an additional 10 metres resulting in an increase in the irrigation potential and power generation capability of the structure. The signing ceremony of the contract with the Chinese State-owned Sinohydro Corp and CWE firms was attended by the Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir. The contract includes Hydromechanic equipment and reconstruction.

The initial capacity of the dam is 3.4 md. c.m. however the accumulated silt in the dam lakes has reduced the storage capacity by 25%. The project aims to heighten Roseires dam to increase the storage capacity to 7.3 md. c.m. CWE is involved in the construction of the controversial Merowe dam in northern Sudan, where at least four people were killed in June when police dispersed residents protesting the project.

Minister of Finance and Economy Sudanese Awad Al-Jazz praised the financial institutions that have provided the necessary funds for the project, especially the Arab Fund for Economic Development and the Islamic Development Bank and the Kuwaiti Fund for Economic Development in addition to the OPEC Fund and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) will extend Sudan a 58-million Kuwaiti Dinar (USD 212 million) loan for heightening the Roseires Dam,

The minister congratulated the Chinese companies winning the contract of the project and the two Australian and French firms which won the advisory contract calling on them to quickly work and complete the project in its time limit. The Australian SMEC International, in association with Coyne et Bellier of France, has signed a contract with the Dams Implementation Unit of the Government of Sudan to undertake the design review and preparation of contract documents for heightening of Roseires Dam.

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Sudanese Mohammed Kamal explained in a speech delivered during the ceremony of the signing of the contract that ” Roseires Dam comes in implementation of the strategic national plan observes the convention related to the sharing of Nile water signed with Egypt in 1959.

He pointed out that the amount of stored water will rise from three billion to 3.7 billion cubic meters and will double the production of electricity by 50 percent from the amount produced now. He also said that it will double the production of electricity 100 per cent by Sinnar Dam. Arab investors from the oil rich Gulf and Egypt are investing huge amount of money in agriculture infrastructure in northern and central Sudan to produce vegetables and cereals. Sudan also will receive some thousands of Egyptian farmers.

The dam, built during the 1960s, is located on the Damazin rapids in the Blue Nile, about 520 kilometres south-east of the capital Khartoum and about 150 kilometres downstream from the Ethiopian border.

It consists of a 1000 metre-long central concrete buttress section with earth embankment sections on each fl ank, 8.5 kilometres and four kilometres in length. A 280 MW hydroelectric plant located at the dam supplies nearly half of Sudans power output. The dam also provides irrigation water for the Gezira Plain.

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Sudan: Government, rebels all set for military solution

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress.getmail.no source.eastafrican.ke

story by Philip Ngunjiri.

Prospects of negotiating a political solution to the Darfur crisis have become more remote as both the Sudanese government and rebels appear determined to pursue a military solution, says a United Nations report.

According to the Report of the Secretary-General on the Deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, the primary obstacle is the lack of political will among all the parties to pursue a peaceful solution to the Darfur crisis. If both sides had mustered the necessary will and agreed to cease hostilities, to co-operate with the deployment of Unamid, to work sincerely with the Special Envoys towards launching the substantive negotiations and to commit to the protection of civilians, we would by now have started to witness significant progress towards a lasting solution, said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon while releasing the report.

The report also says the international communitys failure to supply vital helicopters, transport and other logistical support is undermining the work of the seriously understaffed African Union-Unamid to pacify a region where five years of fighting have killed more than 200,000 people and driven nearly 2.5 million others from their homes. Unamid was set up at the end of last year with a target strength of 26,000 military and police personnel to replace a seriously undermanned and underequipped African Union mission, but at present only has some 10,600 personnel in the field, 1,400 of them civilians.

The implications of the current security situation for the people of Darfur are grave. Violence in western Darfur during the reporting period has significantly impaired the humanitarian communitys ability to provide the civilian population with the critical assistance they require and has increased the vulnerability of thousands of civilians. Additionally, the ongoing attacks on food convoys throughout Darfur have hampered the capacity of agencies on the ground to provide food aid to the population.

Reports of a build-up of forces on the Chad-Sudan border during the reporting period offer a deeply troubling sign that the violence and instability will continue, to the detriment of the civilian population on both sides of the border and in clear violation of the Ceasefire Agreement. Unamid continues to work towards the full implementation of its mandate and has increased its capacity and visibility with the limited personnel and resources currently at its disposal.

It is critical that the international community recognise its own central role in supporting the mission, so as to enable it to effectively implement its mandate and contribute to improving the lives of the civilians of Darfur. In that respect, more must be done to secure the necessary aviation and logistical capacities for a full and effective deployment. Creative solutions must be found for those shortfalls, and they must be found quickly. I call once again on member states to pledge the necessary capabilities for Unamid or to prevail upon others who may be in a position to do so, said Mr Ban.

Tensions between Chad and the Sudan during the reporting period have increasingly demonstrated the regional dimensions of the conflict and the devastating impact that it could have on civilians and peacekeepers on both sides of the border. In that context, a disturbing incident occurred on March 3, when a European Union-led peacekeeping force vehicle mistakenly crossed from Chad into Sudan (Western Darfur) and was fired at by the Sudanese Armed Forces. During the exchange of fire that ensued, one French soldier was killed and another injured.

That particular incident, added Mr Ban, is deeply troubling for the missions on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border, and therefore strongly urged all parties to exercise the utmost restraint. In that regard, he welcomed the agreement reached on March 13 in Dakar between the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, and President Omar Al-Bashir, to normalise relations and work to prevent further violence.

However, the letter dated March 27 from the permanent representative of the Sudan addressed to the president of the Security Council, which alleges that Chad has already violated the Dakar Agreement, was a worrying signal of the climate of mistrust between the two countries. Too many agreements between Chad and the Sudan have gone unimplemented, he noted. Therefore, there is need for both states to take definitive steps to normalise their relations and ensure the full and expeditious implementation of the Dakar Agreement.

Humanitarian operations in Darfur also continue to be constrained by targeted attacks against humanitarian workers and their assets. During the reporting period, 73 vehicles were hijacked, including three Unamid vehicles and 45 trucks contracted by the World Food Programme. Twenty-three of the drivers whose trucks were hijacked are still missing. In the same period, 18 humanitarian facilities were broken into by armed persons, including four humanitarian compounds that were systematically looted and destroyed during the military offensive by the Sudanese Armed Forces in western Darfur.

The recent military campaign by the government of Sudan to drive out non-signatory factions from western Darfur has worsened the situation as it has resulted in indiscriminate killings and other grave human-rights abuses against civilians. The signing of the status-of-forces agreement between Unamid and the government of the Sudan on February 9 was a positive step in the relations between the government and the mission.
However, the fact that Unamid has not been afforded complete freedom of movement, particularly in areas affected by the ongoing violence in western Darfur, demonstrates the need for all parties, including the government and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), to co-operate fully with Unamid and respect the provisions of the agreement both in letter and in spirit.

Despite the governments declared commitment to a political solution, and its unilateral declaration of a cessation of hostilities and its readiness for peace talks, its recent military actions in western Darfur and the widespread use of force against civilians in the region are fundamentally at odds with the creation of the environment of trust necessary to initiate meaningful dialogue. JEM, according to Mr Ban, must also be held accountable for the role it has played in creating those circumstances. The use of military force by the parties has overshadowed the political process and created an environment in which the prospect of negotiations has become ever more remote. In addition to the undue suffering that such fighting creates for the civilian population, the ongoing violence sends a strong signal that the parties are not ready to end the conflict through dialogue.

The report is submitted after every 90 days to the Security Council on developments, the status of the political process and the progress made in the implementation of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.

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Zimbabwe: The case for letting Mugabe feel threat of African force (commentary)

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.businessday.SA

story by Hopewell Radebe.

Although the government has ruled out military intervention in Zimbabwe, there is a case for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to save what is left of its credibility by making clear to President Robert Mugabe the possibility of such intervention.

Analysts argue that doing so could reduce the likelihood that Mugabe will proceed with the coup-by-stealth that appears to be under way, subverting the will of his people as expressed in the March 29 presidential elections. Two weeks ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told the media: I want to stress what the Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said (on her visit to the Netherlands last week), that if we South Africans suddenly go into an illusionary frame of mind that what we think can happen, or must happen, then we are living in very dangerous times.

There is no South African government that will try to impose its will by force, and that will never happen, he said emphatically. But Laurence Caromba of the Centre for International Political Studies argues that Mugabe could be more inclined to relinquish control if he was convinced that the consequences of illegally holding on to power might include regional military intervention. Caromba, a researcher at the University of Pretoria, says that President Thabo Mbeki in conjunction with fellow SADC members has a legal right to launch military action intervene in Zimbabwe to defend the election results in that country.

Such action would be to in line with the African Union (AU) charter, which was amended in 2003 to permit military intervention in countries facing a serious threat to legitimate order. This move was also reinforced at subregional level in 2004, when the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security legalised intervention in cases of a threat to the legitimate authority of the government (such as a military coup). Caromba says that such a legal government intervention is an important tool in the conduct of foreign policy. It was used successfully in three instances in the past 10 years to restore order in Sierra Leone, Lesotho and, most recently, in the Comoros.

In 1997, Nigeria sent troops into Sierra Leone to depose Maj Johnny Koroma , a young military officer who had successfully toppled the elected government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Kabbah went on to serve two terms before stepping down, during which he successfully brought the Sierra Leone civil war to a conclusion. Sierra Leone has remained a constitutional democracy to this day, Caromba says.

In 1998, SADC forces invaded Lesotho to prevent an imminent military coup and restore the civilian government to power. Despite the grave mistakes, coupled with unexpectedly heavy resistance from mutinous elements of the Lesotho Defence Force, and widespread looting in Maseru, order was restored, military rule was averted and, as a result, Lesotho is today a reasonably healthy and robust democracy.

As recently as a month ago, the AU launched an amphibious invasion of Anjouan, an island in the Comoros, to overthrow Col Mohamed Bacar, who had ruled the island as a virtual fiefdom after holding rigged elections and declaring himself president. After a day of fighting, with troops from Sudan, Tanzania and Senegal participating, aided by logistical support from Libya and France, the intervention forces routed Bacars forces, and the colonel fled to the nearby French island of Mayotte.

As with previous African interventions, this right would stem not only from humanitarian concerns, but from Mugabes illegal seizure of power. Legal government intervention is an African innovation: an international law response to the cycle of coups and counter-coups that has plagued African states for decades. Both in treaties and in practice, African states have subtly shifted away from their traditional fixation on sovereignty, and begun to assert the right to intervene to prevent unconstitutional changes of government.

As the situation stands in Zimbabwe, the bulk of the evidence suggests Mugabe is slowly unleashing pro-government militias and effectively dismantling the constitutional order. He pointedly refused to attend a SADC summit aimed at defusing the crisis, while war veterans march through the streets of Harare in shows of force and soldiers beat up opposition supporters for holding premature victory celebrations, pending the release of delayed presidential election results.

The AU charter does not call on member states merely to prop up incumbent governments, but to protect the legitimate order. Conceptually, there is little difference between illegally assuming power and illegally maintaining power after losing an election, Caromba says. In the event that Mugabes regime attempts to subvert Zimbabwes constitution, either by altering election results or resorting to undisguised military rule, it will constitute a threat to legitimate order as grave as any military coup, and create a legal basis for military intervention under both AU and SADC agreements, he says.

Therefore, states in the region should, at the very least, begin preparing for such a scenario. Analyst Kuseni Dlamini says it is highly unlikely that the region would consider such a drastic step because the consequences may be as far-reaching as they may be irreversible for Zimbabwe, southern Africa and Africa at large. It is vital to consider both the intended and unintended consequences of military intervention in a country such as Zimbabwe, which has a military pact with Angola, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he says.

Admittedly, military force should always be a last resort and should never be entered into lightly, as its use would automatically entail great costs and risks to the lives of both soldiers in the region and Zimbabwean civilians. However, Caromba argues that by making the possibility of military intervention explicit, South African diplomats would actually reduce the likelihood of Mugabe risking such a scenario. Analyst Martin Rupiya of the Institute for Security Studies says the SADC still has several other instruments, such as sanctions, to explore before entertaining the idea of military intervention. One cannot see that happening especially since other countries within the AU, such as the Sudan, have been treated differently to this day.

The joint UN-AU peace mission for Darfur is struggling to deal with Khartoum just to deploy its forces that have long been approved, even by the United Nations Security Council, he says. Rupiya says the AU structures on peace and security are still fragile and too stretched to dare to take on countries such as Zimbabwe, while it seemed easier to take on the Comoros or Lesotho. There are different rules for bigger boys and small boys.

*Radebe is diplomatic editor.

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Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.businessdaily.ke

story by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem.

Martin Luther King Junior said: Evil triumphs because good men refuse to speak up. Zimbabwe and President Mugabe is a situation we cannot in all good conscience continue to ignore around anymore. It is indefensible that one man, no matter what his contribution to the country, should be holding the people to ransom.

I know that one tree does not make a forest and that Mr Mugabe alone is not responsible for the situation. There are many interests hiding behind him. It is even conceivable that despite all the rhetoric and masochistic belligerence, the old man has become an executive prisoner trapped in a power system he pioneered, which now has him cornered without an escape route.

This kind of structural analysis whilst important, risks however underestimating human agency and individual responsibility. Its primitive determinism may even be used to justify any situation, rendering intervention impossible. If individuals are not important why do we have heroes and heroines? Why do we have leaders? We are neither zombies nor automatons who behave in a predetermined way. Choices are made and unmade by human beings; accountability is first and foremost individual. Mugabe is no longer merely part of the problem of Zimbabwe: now he is the problem.

The choices that he will or will not make, can either help to resolve the crisis or accentuate it. No one will force him to remain in office if he chooses to step down: neither the dreaded Security Services nor the aged ZANU-PF nomenclatural have the power to force him to remain in the presidential palace. The fact that he has not taken that option is a deliberate personal choice, just as his one-man contest for candidacy of the party has always been his choice.

It is simply unacceptable that weeks after the March 29 general election, the result of the Presidential contest is yet to be declared and meanwhile there is a re-count of the declared Parliamentary results! Even those who were willing to stretch their good will to Mugabe must be finding it ridiculous or running out of excuses. Some of them continue to beg the issue by forcing parallels with other botched elections. They point out that it took six weeks and the Supreme Court to declare Bush President of the USA in 2001. Why should an avowed Pan Africanist leader vomiting all kinds of anti-imperialist attacks be defended by Washingtons non-standard? They also point to the two months it took before the final results of the 2005 controversial elections in Ethiopia could be released.

I am surprised they are not saying that Mugabe is better than Meles, who jailed those who defeated his party! Why should Africans always judge themselves by looking down instead of looking up to higher standards? The hypocrisies and bad manners of others should not justify the mischief making by Mugabe and his hirelings.

It is really sad that President Mugabe who is probably one of the better (if not the best) prepared leaders for the job should end like this. He has seven degrees (not honorary) for goodness sake! A man who acquired a mosaic of degrees in an academic cocktail of humanities and social science disciplines and led one of the most successful liberation movements in Africa, could not be accused of arriving in the State House by accident.

But he is ending his rule and life as a tragic figure hanging on and increasingly sounding and behaving like a man trapped in a time warp. It must sadden all Africans and is good ammunition for all enemies of Africa who believe that nothing good comes from us no matter how well and promising the beginning was. Unfortunately for Africa, when one of us fails it is blamed on all. No one will blame Americans and other westerners for all the atrocities of George Bush. No one will even blame Brown for Blairs evil fraternity with Bush and other Europeans will quickly wash their hands clean of him. Yet these same people use Zimbabwe and Mugabe to beat our heads with all the time.

Consequently many Africans, whether Presidents or peasants, have become defensive about the situation. The fear of not being seen as echoing London and Washington, has policed many of us into silence which ZANU-PF and Mugabe hardliners have harvested as popular support among Africans. It is moral cowardice and politically irresponsible for us to hide indecision and inertia behind anti-Western postures. It is time to speak out and stand up for what we believe in.

*Tajudeen is deputy director, Africa – UN Millennium Campaign.

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Cameroon: Biya clings on

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no sourcemail&Guardian.SA

story by Emmanuel Wongibe.

Yaounde (Cameroon) – The Cameroon National Assembly has adopted a government proposal to amend the countrys Constitution — a move that paves the way for incumbent President Paul Biya to continue in office when his term expires in 2011.

Six of the 70 articles that make up Cameroons Constitution were modified on April 10 by a vote of 157 in the 180-member legislature. The amendments introduced three major changes to the Constitution.

First, the two-term limit enshrined in the 1996 Constitution has been removed. This means that Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since November 1982 and whose second seven-year term is scheduled to end in 2011, is now eligible to run for office indefinitely. Second, the president now cannot be prosecuted for any act performed in the exercise of his duties.
Finally, with regard to presidential succession, the Constitution now states that if the president is unable to perform his duties or the office otherwise becomes vacant, the president of the senate will serve as interim president of the republic and elections will be organised within 40 to 120 days.

But the senate exists only on paper. Since the creation of a bicameral legislature 12 years ago, senate elections have not been held, thereby allowing Cameroon to continue as a de facto unicameral state, with the National Assembly the countrys only legislative body.

The constitutional changes were rammed through the national assembly by the government, which has a big majority in the assembly. All but one of the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) MPs voted in favour of the Bill, while another five dissenting votes were cast by MPs of the opposition Cameroon Democratic Union party. All 18 MPs of the main opposition party — the Social Democratic Front (SDF) — staged a walkout from Parliament to protest against the Bill, the adoption of which the party described as the death of democracy in Cameroon.

The SDF, which is known for its recourse to street protests, simply called for last Monday to be observed as a day of national mourning, during which Cameroonians were urged to dress in black and stay at home.
The oppositions largely symbolic reaction to the constitutional amendments is widely seen as a tacit admission by the countrys political elite that Cameroonians may be weary of demonstrations and civil disobedience, by which the president appears utterly unmoved. In February a heavy-handed crackdown on massive street protests against rising food and fuel prices resulted in 40 deaths and hundreds of arrests.

Heavily armed soldiers and police were deployed in the major cities ahead of the national assembly vote and this week continued to patrol the streets, particularly in the main towns of Yaound and Douala. Despite fierce criticism of the constitutional changes by civil society and the private press, the mood in Cameroon is one of resignation, as most people seem too busy struggling to cope with their dwindling purchasing power — the result of a weakening economy, stagnant wages, rising prices of fuel and basic consumer goods and high unemployment.

The government has strongly defended the constitutional changes. In an interview with the BBC last week Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni described presidential term limits as anti-democratic, arguing that such a restriction denied the people the right to freely choose their leaders. The lone dissenting vote within the ruling party was cast by Ayah Paul Abine (57), an MP and retired magistrate who, like the prime minister, hails from the minority anglophone South West province. He said that the amendments take Cameroon 200 years behind.

The timing of the constitutional changes allowed critics to draw parallels between the situation in Cameroon and democratic setbacks elsewhere on the continent. On April 7 the French-language independent daily, Mutation, compared Cameroon with Zimbabwe and regretted the egotism of African leaders who would do anything to stay in power forever. In a caustic op-ed piece editor-in-chief Alain Batongue described the constitutional changes as tailor-made to meet Biyas needs — namely, more years in office and a worry-free life thereafter.

Since gaining independence from France and Britain 48 years ago, Cameroon has been ruled by two presidents. Biya succeeded his predecessor and mentor, Ahmadou Ahidjo, in a peaceful handover in 1982. He survived a bloody coup attempt in 1984 and opened the country up to multiparty politics in the early 1990s. Supporters credit him with the stability this multi-ethnic Central African country of 20million people continues to enjoy, while critics worry that he has in the past decade strengthened his grip on power and reversed the democratic gains of the 1990s.

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Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2008

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Posted by African Press International on April 29, 2008

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A message to Okoth Otura from Nkuraya

Posted by African Press International on April 29, 2008

Otura, you are a fool and this is why.

First you think by having majimbo corruption will go away. Now that foolishness. All you need to do is to look at how CDF money has been embezzled at local level.

Second you claim that the Gikuyus tax payers in Rift Valley will be protected by regional powers, that utter nonsense. The regional leaders dont like Gikuyu now what will make them like Gikuyu when they have a regional government?

Third, you keep on reffering to Moi as late president Moi making the readers wonder when Moi passed away.

In any case the ethnic violence in Rift Valley actually call for a more strong central government in order to guarantee freedom of of movement and ownership of property in the whole country.

Otura I am suprised you call yourself a Reverend because you luck wisdom which is the the hallmark of the Holy Spirit. Majimbo is division and engaging in Majimboism is engaging in divisive politics which is unchristian.

By Nkuraya

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Okoth Otura ndebele okoth <revgeorgeoo@yahoo.com> wrote:

Press Release !
The Rift Valley MPs should table Majimbo motion in Parliament ASAP
By Rev Okoth Otura,
Christian Democratic Movement of Kenya (CDMK)
The aggrieved Kenyan communities invested heavily in ODM because the party had offered to enact the Bomas Draft constitution clause to address the land, social and economical historical injustice through a form of federalism.
TheChristian Democratic Movement of Kenya (CDMK),therefore, wish to urge the Rift Valley MPs to move a motion in parliament to have the said clause enacted in Parliament ASAP.
The ODM must pressurized for the devolution of power to honor their election pledge to Kenyans.
It took the ODM and PNU MPs to push for grand coalition government to become a law in less than fortnight, why not the Majimbo systems which is the onlyroad mapto peace in Kenya and equity in sharing the national resources, be given the same treatment by our legislators.
Meanwhile, CDMK call upon the International Community to support the cause of devolution ofpower in Kenyato bring aboutcheck and balance, and furtherwipe out the corruption syndrome institutionalized in the Kenya through Central government systems since 1963.
CDMKurge the Canadian, US and European Union to halt any aid to Kenya until the majimbo system is enacted in Kenya constitution to enable them directly inject development to regional governments for the speedily development and sustainability at the grassroots level.
It is through Majimbo System that the Gikuyus tax payersand residentof Rift Valley and any triberesiding away from their ancetral homes shall be protected by the regional laws as it is the modern federal democracies in the world.
Without MajimboSystems all the funding and donation markfor Kenya by the International community will just end up in the corrupt politiciansand the “old boys” corrupt civil servants bottomless pockets.
The current Internal Displace Persons (IDPs) crisis is flawed with high level of corruption masterminded by the Mt Kenya Mafia government officials to fraudulently woo compensations from both Kenya government and the international community to their kinsmen.
The PM Hon Raila, his Deputy PM Hon Mudavadi and the Agriculture Minister Hon Rutushould not beblinded by the government portfolio which they got as result of their communities who were massacred byKibaki government forces and mungiki militias.
It is indeed shameful for these leaders to hurriedly accept to resettle fake IDPs and the Land grabbers while their own communities are still mourning their dead, living under inhuman conditions eitherin IDPs campsor attheir ancestral homes without shelter, food, water, medications and school.
What make Rift Valley and the Gikuyus so specials than the Kisiis, Massais, Luos, Kalenjins, Lughyas, Mjikenda, and those in Mt Elgon who are living under Military curfew and fear ?
Is this not a betrayal and form of grand marginalization by the governmentand theODM Leaders to give priority to one ethnic group ?
The widows, widowers, orphans whose their parents, wives andhusbands were brutally shot and died with government bullets lodged in their bodies in Rift Valley, Western, Coast, Nyanza, equally required compensation and reparation from the Kenya government and the International Community.
It is awkward and unacceptable to deny the remaining Kenyan tribes equal justice.
The regionswhich overwhelmingvoted for ODM-Majimbo systemweretargeted by the government excess security force and thus theywere a directvictims of the government security brutal killings.
The Kenya government and the International communitymust provide them with same opportunity to have their voices heard and to obtain, where appropriate, some form of compensations and reparationfor their sufferings.
It is this balancethat thegovernment agentsperpetrators and retributiveshall restorative justice toenable the Grand Coalition Government, not only to bring criminals to justice but also to help the victims themselves obtain justice.
It is indeed unfortunate that the ODM leaders fought vigorously to have the Grand Coalition Cabinet slots, and there after they decide to play in the hands of President Kibaki and the Mt Kenya maneuvers who are out to divide ODM and split it across ethnic lines before 2012.
While, the late President Moi strategy to unite the former MPs and Kanu hardliners leaders across the Country through his son Gideon Moi to weaken ODM in RiftValley,whereas the former Vice President Modi Awuor is rocking western province, as the Mt Kenyayoung Turks are busy planting seeds of discord in ODM young and inexperience first timer parliamentariansin the name of Grand Opposition, to defeator challenge ODM sponsored motions in Parliament.
ODM must tread carefully to avoid mass defection and by-elections across the country to rob them the mandates in the grand coalition government.
The former President Moi, President Kibaki and the Mt Kenya Mafias have enough resources to bring down the government before the Majimbo reforms is instituted into a lawand throw ODM to the opposition bench before 2012.
By Reverend Okoth Otura, Canada

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African Press International – api

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Prosecution witness recounts Taylor-made hostage taking, Freetown attack

Posted by African Press International on April 29, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no

Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra completed her direct examination of former AFRC commander, witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay, in the latest trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the people of Sierra Leone.

A release from the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague said following the July 1999 Lom Peace Accord, commander Ibrahim “Bazzy” Kamara grew angry that the agreement made no mention of the AFRC or its leader, Johnny Paul Koroma who overthrew the democratically elected government in Sierra Leone.

He stated that Bazzy sent a radio message to the protocol officer of President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah in Freetown telling him that he wanted to hand over some child combatants to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

According to Sesay, shortly after this discussion, a group of ECOMOG and UNAMSIL officials arrived in Magbeni, near Freetown, together with a bishop and some others.

Sesay testified that on Bazzys orders the West Side rebel group feigned a handover of the child soldiers, then moved in and took the international forces hostage at gunpoint.

He explained that on the day of the radio broadcasts (BBC, VOA) about the kidnapping, Sam Bockarie called Bazzy and told him to release the hostages.

Shortly afterwards, Sesay said, Johnny Paul Koroma called Bazzy on the radio and told him that Liberian President Charles Taylor was sending a helicopter to pick him up in Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone and take him to Liberia to discuss the problem.

In Monrovia, Koroma had heavy security and told the delegation that it had been provided by President Taylor. At the meeting with Charles Taylor in the conference room in the Executive Mansion in Monrovia Taylor entered with Momoh Gibba and Liberian Defense Minister Daniel Chea at which time Johnny Paul Koroma introduced the members of the delegation to Taylor.

Then, Sesay said, Taylor said that he had been giving assistance to the AFRC and RUF in the form of food, arms and ammunition, and had also mobilized some AFRC men who were in Liberia and had sent them to Mosquito to advance for the onslaught on Freetown to overthrow Tejan Kabbah.

Taylor warned that if they remained divided, politicians would use them and they would end up in jail.

The onslaught killed near 5000 people and left half of Freetown in ashes.

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